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Arthritis treatment

We offer a comprehensive range of treatment options for arthritis

Woman wearing a hand brace as part of her arthritis treatment
Arthritis is an umbrella term that describes conditions that cause pain and inflammation in your joints. Millions of people suffer from arthritis in the UK, and there are various types that can develop. Arthritis can affect people of all ages, including children and teenagers.

Osteoarthritis, which happens when the smooth cartilage that protects your joints from damage becomes worn out (we'll explain more about this below), happens more in older people. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune condition, happens more in younger people than osteoarthritis does.

Regardless of your age or the type of arthritis you live with, it can be an immensely challenging condition, because it causes a range of distressing symptoms, including pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. Without proper function and movement in your joints, simple activities like household chores, driving and shopping can become difficult to perform, which can have a direct impact on your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health.

The severity of symptoms caused by arthritis vary from person to person - some people experience periods with no pain, followed by severe pain flare-ups, while others live with constant pain. Many people with the condition need regular treatment such as steroid injection therapy or physiotherapy to ease their symptoms effectively and manage daily life.

Although arthritis has the potential to significantly affect your ability to function, it is also very treatable. At Circle Health Group, we are experts in arthritis treatment, and we know that the condition be managed successfully through a variety of treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical. Some people will need surgery, such as joint replacement surgery, to repair damage to their joint caused by arthritis, while others will be able to effectively manage their arthritis symptoms using non-surgical treatments, also known as conservative treatments.

If you are living with arthritis and it's impacting your quality of life, it's time to speak to a specialist. Cal or book online to see one of our experienced consultants, who will help you to take control of your joint pain and get back to normal again.

Arthritis symptoms vary across conditions. Common symptoms of arthritis generally include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness and restricted movement of your affected joint
  • Weakness in your joint
  • Warm red skin over your affected joint
  • Tiredness and a lack of energy
  • Pain that doesn’t go away with traditional painkillers
  • Pain that becomes worse at night
  • Pain that affects many aspects of your daily life, including your job, sex life, and ability to perform everyday tasks

Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to cause symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. Constant fatigue can severely impact your quality of life, making aspects like socialising with friends and maintaining concentration at work particularly demanding. There are ways you can manage a lack of energy caused by arthritis, including medication, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which we discuss in more detail further down this page.

Where can you get arthritis?

Arthritis can affect many joints, but most commonly occurs in your hands (arthritis in your fingers can make actions like grasping and clutching particularly difficult), spine, knees, and hips. Other joints that can become damaged by the condition include:

  • Ankles
  • Wrists
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows

If you'd like to learn more about arthritis treatment with Circle Health Group, you can call a friendly member of our advisory team on 0141 300 5009 or book an appointment with one of our brilliant orthopaedic consultants. We offer tailored care, meaning your treatment will be built around your needs with a healthcare team of multidisciplinary professionals dedicated to helping you manage your arthritis symptoms.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, but osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common. Different types of arthritis include:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) currently affects more than 400,000 people in the UK. It is caused by an autoimmune process, which happens when your body attacks its healthy cells by mistake. This often causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in your joints. Joints affected by RA are commonly surrounded by inflamed tissue, which often results in chronic pain. As mentioned above, rheumatoid arthritis causes other challenging symptoms too, including as fatigue and tiredness.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage (a tough, flexible tissue found throughout your body) across the surface of your joint(s) wears down over time. You'll sometimes hear it referred to as wear and tear arthritis, and it's more common the older we get. The wear and tear can make your joints very painful and stiff and can really reduce your mobility.


Bursitis happens when the fluid filled sacs (known as bursa) that cushion and protect your joints become inflamed. This can result in pain and swelling in your joints. Usually it presents as a dull, aching pain that can persist even when you take traditional painkillers or try gentle stretching. If you have bursitis, you might find it challenging to perform simple everyday tasks, like walking and driving, making everyday life feel like a struggle.

Septic arthritis

This is a much less common form of arthritis. It's a severe joint infection that can be caused by a traumatic injury to your joint, including a bite or wound. It can also happen as the result of an infection following surgery. Septic arthritis requires immediate medical attention. The damage caused by septic arthritis can lead to the need for surgery to remove and replace your damaged joint.


Gout is a painful inflammatory condition, but it does not cause widespread inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid (urate) in your joints. Excess uric acid can cause crystals to form in your joints, resulting in sudden attacks of pain and swelling, which might be accompanied by heat, redness, and tenderness.

People most commonly get gout in their big toe(s), but it can occur in other joints, such as your knees and ankles. Gout often flares up in stages, meaning you might have periods when you don’t feel its effects, and others when your symptoms are more constant and severe.

Psoriatic arthritis (PA)

Like rheumatoid arthritis, this is an autoimmune disease that happens when your body attacks its healthy cells. It usually occurs in people who have psoriasis, a different kind of autoimmune disease that causes red or silver scaly skin patches across your body. These can be itchy and vary in size and severity from person to person.

PA causes your joints to become painful, swollen, and stiff, like other forms of arthritis. It is not clear why some people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis and others do not, but you can work with an orthopaedic consultant (who specialises in treating bones and joints) and a dermatologist (who specialises in treating skin problems) to develop your treatment plan and manage your symptoms.

As mentioned above, arthritis is a long-term condition, which is usually caused by either an autoimmune response or by wear and tear (osteoarthritis) within your bones that occurs over time. This wear and tear can sometimes be caused by a bone fracture or dislocation that doesn’t heal properly, which is known as post-traumatic osteoarthritis. A fracture occurs when there is a break or crack in your bone, and a dislocation when there is a separation of two bones that meet at your joint. Most are caused by injuries and direct blows to your joint, such as during a rugby tackle or bad fall.

Fractures and dislocations can fail to heal properly if they are not treated properly in the first place, or if they are not treated properly during your healing phase, for example if you do not follow you’re the recovery and exercise plan recommended by your doctor or physiotherapist. You might need further treatment, such as surgery, to repair the damage caused to your joint by post-traumatic arthritis.

It is important to remember that most fractures and dislocations heal very well when treated appropriately and cared for during your recovery period. If you have treatment for an accident or injury with Circle Health Group, your consultant will ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment for your personal circumstances and will provide you with a detailed recovery plan to follow at home. This will usually include a tailored exercise plan from a physiotherapist.

If you think you have arthritis, your first appointment will usually be with an orthopaedic consultant. This is a consultant who specialises in bones and joints. However, if you have an inflammatory type of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, you might need to meet with a consultant rheumatologist. If you are unsure, call us directly and one of our advisors will be able to help you find the right consultant for you.

We work with consultants across a wide variety of specialties, who in turn work with each other to make sure all our patients get the best care possible. So, if you meet with one type of consultant but they think you could benefit from the help of another, they can easily refer you onwards to someone else on our team.

You can usually see a specialist for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us. During this initial appointment, your consultant will ask a series of questions about your general health and your medical history. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions you have, as well as the current arthritis symptoms you are experiencing. They'll ask you how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have had any treatment for them yet.

You might need an X-ray to diagnose your arthritis

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms, your consultant will next carry out a gentle physical examination of your painful joint(s). In some cases, they might also send for you to get an X-ray, which will be carried out onsite by one of our radiologists.

An X-ray is an imaging technique used to look inside your body at your bones and soft tissues. It's a quick, painless procedure used for a wide variety of reasons and can help your consultant identify abnormalities and damage to bones in any area of your body.

After your consultant has identified whether your joint pain is caused by arthritis, as well as the kind of arthritis you have, they will share more information about the treatment options available to you.

No question is a silly question

Your initial consultation is an important and positive step in your journey towards improved mobility and reduced joint pain. It's where we get to know you as an individual and find out what you need from treatment. To make the most of your initial consultation, please know you can talk as openly and honestly as you like about the pain and other symptoms you're experiencing, the way they make you feel, and what you're hoping to get from your treatment with us.

This is also a safe space for you to ask as many questions as you like. Your consultant will be an expert in joint pain treatment and will have extensive experience in helping people like you, so do take the opportunity to make the most of their knowledge. They will provide you with a good idea of timelines for treatment (including surgery) during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together.

We offer a variety of non-surgical treatment options for joint pain with Circle Health Group, including:

Steroid injection therapy

Also known as injection therapy or a hydrocortisone injection, this is a common and highly effective means of managing pain and swelling in your joint(s) caused by an injury or a form of arthritis.

Hydrocortisone is a steroid medication that works by calming down your body's immune response to reduce distressing symptoms such as pain, itching, swelling, and inflammation. It comes in several forms, including cream, tablets, and injections. Cortisone injections are injected directly into your painful joint (an injection directly into your joint is known as an intra-articular injection).

Oral anti-inflammatories

These can either be prescribed by your GP or consultant. They reduce swelling in your joint, which can lessen stiffness and pain. Your doctor might also recommend using heat therapy (in the form of icepacks or heat pads) to reduce swelling and numb your joint pain.

Heat therapy can be used in addition to anti-inflammatory medication to help you manage your symptoms. Your doctor will ensure you understand how to manage your medication and heat therapy safely and efficiently at home for the best results.

Medication will often be used in combination with another non-surgical treatment option, such as physiotherapy.


Physiotherapy for joint pain comprises a specialist exercise programme designed to strengthen the muscles around your joints, improving your mobility and reducing your pain. It can be a highly effective treatment for joint pain and many people see amazing results.

If you have private physiotherapy with Circle Health Group, your dedicated physiotherapist will build a custom programme of exercises to help you strengthen your joint and its surrounding muscles. They will take a holistic approach to your care, meaning they will take the time to understand how your joint pain impacts both your emotional and your physical wellbeing, and tailor your treatment around your individual needs and goals.

Our hospitals are equipped with advanced specialist equipment to help you get the best from your sessions and as quickly and safely as possible. We can also provide you with the right equipment to perform your exercises efficiently at home.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Like medication, this is often used in combination with another non-surgical treatment option, such as physiotherapy, to help you manage your joint pain. CBT can be used as a form of treatment to help you sleep with chronic pain. Arthritis symptoms can often feel more prevalent at night for a mixture of reasons - there are no distractions from pain at night, and your joint can feel worn out and tired after a day of supporting your movement and function, which can lead to increased levels of pain.

CBT is a form of talking therapy that can reshape your thinking patterns and behaviours. It is a structured programme that helps you to address thoughts and actions that could negatively affect your sleeping habits. Some features of this programme include relaxation techniques to help you relax your mind and body through meditation, muscle relaxation, mental refocusing, and mindfulness, as well as sleep hygiene to change lifestyle habits that could affect your sleep.

We offer a variety of surgical treatment options for joint pain across our hospitals, including:

Joint replacement surgery

This is an operation to remove your painful and damaged joint and replace it with an artificial joint, also known as a prosthesis. The artificial joint will work as a normal joint, allowing you to function properly with significantly less pain and improved flexibility and range of movement.

There are two main types of replacement surgeries: partial and total. Partial involves replacing one part of your joint, and total involves replacing a large proportion or your entire joint. People most commonly have joint replacement surgery in their knees and hips. The procedure is highly effective and replacement joints usually last for around 15 years, allowing you to get back to doing the things you love, including regular sport and fitness.

Joint replacement surgery is performed under general anaesthetic, meaning you will not be awake during the procedure.

What happens during joint replacement surgery?

This depends on which joint you have surgery on, but the procedure follows a similar process across different kinds of joint replacements. For example, during partial hip replacement surgery, your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision on the side of your hip and remove your damaged femoral head (the ball-and-socket joint in your hip). This will then be replaced with an artificial joint.

Whether this is a cemented or uncemented ceramic hip replacement (a ceramic ball attached to a metal stem), or a fully metal hip replacement, depends on which material your consultant decides is the best option for you. Sometimes, the prosthesis is a combination of different materials.

Before placing the permanent prosthesis, your surgeon will use a test implant to check that their measurements are correct and that the new joint moves as it should. The aim is to fit the prosthesis as precisely as possible, so your new hip feels natural. During total hip replacement surgery, your consultant will remove your damaged femoral head and socket and replace each with their respective artificial components.

Find out more about hip replacement surgery, including the average recovery timeline and the importance of having physiotherapy after surgery.

Like hip replacement surgery, knee replacement surgery involves an incision in your knee to access your patella (kneecap). This is moved aside to provide access to your joint. Your surgeon will then remove the damaged ends of your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). The ends of these bones are measured and shaped to fit your prosthesis. But before this is fitted, your orthopaedic surgeon will test your joint with a trial prosthesis.

Find out more about knee replacement surgery.

Arthroscopy to treat arthritis

This is a minimally invasive procedure to look inside your joint. It can be used to diagnose and treat a range of joint pain conditions, including many forms of arthritis. It can be performed under either local or general anaesthetic, depending on the severity of damage to your joint, as well as your consultant's preferred technique.

What happens during an arthroscopy?

During an arthroscopy, your surgeon will make one or more small incisions in the skin covering your painful joint. They will then insert an arthroscope (a small examining probe with a camera and light attached to the end of it) through the incision(s) and inside your skin. This camera sends pictures to a video monitor, allowing your consultant to look inside your joint and determine the cause of your pain. Arthroscopy surgery can also be performed to treat joint problems. If needed, your consultant will remove or repair any damaged areas of your joint using small surgical instruments inserted through the incisions.

Arthroscopic debridement

This minimally invasive, keyhole procedure helps treat all kinds of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and more.

What happens during arthroscopic debridement?

The procedure removes damaged components surrounding your painful, damaged joint to enable it to function properly and remain flexible. This damage might include excess bone or abnormal tissue, which is often associated with soft tissue lesions (abnormal tissue) in your joint.

Your consultant will insert specialist instruments through one or more incisions to 'clean out' your joint and remove the surrounding excess bone and tissue. They will also repair damaged tissue, if needed, but their technique for doing this will depend on the extent of the damage. After all damage has been removed or repaired, your consultant will close the incision using non-dissolvable sutures or surgical tape strips.

High tibial osteotomy (knee realignment surgery)

This procedure is used to treat knee arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It can also treat deformities in your knee.

What happens during a tibial osteotomy?

A high tibial osteotomy typically lasts between one and two hours, and is performed under general anaesthetic. This means that you'll be asleep for the full operation and won't feel any pain at all.

Your surgeon will start by making an incision at the front of your knee, just below your kneecap. At this stage, they will use guide wires to map out the exact part of the bone in your knee that needs to be removed to restore a correct weight balance. Using an oscillating saw, your surgeon cuts along the guide wires, removing the wedge of bone - either on the outside of your upper shin bone or just under the side of your knee that has healthy cartilage, depending on what is most appropriate for your condition.

Having removed a part of your bone to take pressure off the damaged side of your knee joint, they will then close the area where they removed the bone with a metal plate or pins. Doing this brings the bones on the healthy side of your knee closer together and allows for more space on the damaged side, ensuring that no more friction between your bones takes place.

Once the pins are in place and your leg has been straightened into a correct shape, your surgeon will close your wound with stitches or staples ahead of applying a dressing.

Find out more about high tibial osteotomy.

You're in safe hands

Regardless of the type of surgery you have with us at Circle Health Group, your consultant and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals will ensure you are supported throughout your journey from start to finish. We combine skills, knowledge, and compassion to deliver excellent standards of care. We understand that living with arthritis can be extremely difficult, but it doesn't have to be. There are so many treatment options available to help manage and even eliminate your symptoms, significantly improving your quality of life and helping you feel like you again.

You might be considering treatment for arthritis with Circle Health Group and interested to know more about the benefits of having treatment with us. When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more treatment for arthritis with us, call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in November 2022. Next review due November 2025.

  1. How arthritis hurts,
  2. Psychosocial management of chronic pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: challenges and solutions, NCBI
  3. Arthritis, Versus Arthritis

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